"If we have a constraint in the system, wouldn't we want to get rid of it?"
by Jeff Cox, co-author of The Goal
with Dale Houle & Hugh Cole of AGI-Goldratt Institute
"Have you ever heard of TOC - the Theory of Constraints?"
"No, what's that?"
"It's a business management concept for controlling flow," Sarah said.
"Flow of what?"
"The flow of whatever the organization is supposed to create."
"You say 'constraints'? Is that what our problem is? Too many constraints?"
"No, a constraint in TOC thinking is not what it sounds like. A constraint -- in particular a system constraint, as it's called -- is a regulating device that governs the rate of results of the system. TOC holds that every business -- every organization -- should have a recognized system constraint in order to govern flow."
"I don't understand. If we have a constraint in the system," Rolly asked, "wouldn't we want to get rid of it?"
"You have constraints in your business no matter what. There are only so many hours in a day, only so many people, so much equipment -- and only so much money as operating capital. At the limits of those resources you have, for each one, a constraint. Nothing is unlimited."
"In most cases, though, the capacities of the resources are ample enough that the limits are never reached if the resources are managed well. And TOC posits that a primary tool for managing well is to have a system constraint."
"Think of it as a valve. Like a master valve. As something to regulate flow. It's not there because it's a problem; it's there for a purpose. And that purpose is to synchronize everything that's going on throughout the system so that there is smooth, fast flow."
-- from HANGING FIRE
Ordering HANGING FIRE
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